You know the story: you say yes to everyone who asks you for something, you give and you give until you over-commit and overwhelm yourself and you forget one crucial piece: YOU. Whether it’s balancing work, kids, health matters, partners, or social life, we all have a lot on our plates. That’s why it’s essential that you carve some much-needed, well-deserved YOU-TIME. In other words, self-care.

As a therapist, I often refer to self-care as an integral part of someone’s life who is busy, overwhelmed, or stressed out. So what is self-care? It is essentially a mindful time to pay attention to you in order to ensure that you are being cared for by you. Too often, I see strong and successful professionals falling ill and experiencing burn-out in their workplace. They usually report that they can’t seem to catch their breath and may even start thinking of changing careers. It doesn’t have to be this way! Incorporating self-care daily (or even weekly) can serve as a shield that will protect your mental energy and help support you for those stressful days.

Self-care is essential for your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Carving some time for yourself can remind you and others that your needs are important, too. Having a well-cared-for mind and body can make you feel good about yourself, can boost your confidence and self-esteem, and will ensure that you stay motivated and healthy.

To take better care of yourself, here are some checkpoints:

1. Set your limits:
Recognize when your feelings of overwhelm are building and start communicating it to others. Be assertive and say no to tasks others can handle, are unnecessary, or can wait.

2. Get enough sleep and know how to rest.
Quality of sleep is essential. Notice if you’re waking up in the middle of the night or tossing and turning. Consider sleep hygiene 1 hour before bed: no heavy meal, no screen time, limit noise and light, and drink a relaxing beverage, I personally like peppermint and chamomile teas.

3. Decompress throughout your day.
Are your thoughts racing? What can help you tune out that noise? Try integrating small breaks throughout your work day to refresh your mind and body. Try stretching, taking a short walk, or doing a few breathing exercises to calm your thoughts.

4. Get to know yourself.
Recognize what you can do to eliminate unwanted stress or overwhelm. For example, by spending one day a week to grocery shop and meal prep for the whole week can set the tone for healthy and mindful eating habits and can even get you closer to your weight goal.

So the good news? It’s not as complicated and time-consuming as you’d think. Check out the cheat sheet above to get you started on breaking down your own self-care.

Start small: if the thought of self-care is nerve-wracking, allocate just one hour a week for yourself.

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